In June, the American Medical Association denounced physician-assisted suicide such as that practiced by Jack Kevorkian, M.D. Last week, Kevorkian got his opportunity to fight back.
The man known to many as "Dr. Death" seized the opportunity presented by the national broadcast audience of a National Press Club speech in Washington to attack the AMA and pummel the press for giving the AMA coverage of its stance.
Recalling AMA positions that group practices, Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance and Medicare were unethical, Kevorkian questioned the association's policy opposing physician-assisted suicide. "It turns out that everything they oppose turns out to be ethical," Kevorkian said. "The AMA is dishonest, disingenuous. In fact, they're criminally negligent."
Added Kevorkian attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who also spoke to the gathering: "(The AMA has) never led on anything. Why would they lead on this?"
The AMA declined comment on Kevorkian's speech.
In a moment of levity, however, Fieger couldn't resist inserting some Washington political humor: "Having done as much as he could," Fieger said, "Jack today will announce his resignation as Bob Dole's campaign manager."
Publicly held healthcare companies don't like to speculate too much about the future, but Wall Street has a craving to know what's to come. During Tenet Healthcare Corp.'s conference call with stock analysts last week, the subject of Washington's disposition toward Medicare came up.
For what it's worth, here's what Jeffrey Barbakow, the hospital chain's chairman and chief executive officer, told analysts he sees for this fall's election: "The president is re-elected."
Bottom line: Cuts are likely in Medicare, which funds nearly 40% of Tenet's revenues, but not until early 1997. "There will be some effect in our fourth quarter of next year," he noted, but he declined to elaborate.
After 18 years, the weekly newsletter published by the Nebraska Association of Hospitals and Health Systems is going out of business.
The Monitor, typically a one-page issue with news and job information, published its last issue the week of July 29. However, a new monthly publication, Healthier Nebraska, will debut this month in an eight-page format.
The change came as a result of a survey of 21 hospital chief executive officers and management staffers from across Nebraska. "We wanted to better communicate with our members, and we thought (the change in publications) would be a better way to do just that," said Tina Henderson, NAHHS director of communications.
The new format will focus less on timely news and more on trends, with articles that are in-depth and geared toward healthcare system development.
Two weeks into his new job as president and chief executive officer at Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital, Bruce Siegel, M.D., "fired" 77 new employees who were scheduled to start work this month.
The problem is many of the new hires had already quit their old jobs and moved to the Tampa area from as far away as Alaska, said Mary Ann Knight, the hospital's vice president of support services.
Knight said Tampa General promised to find new jobs for those people who had relocated.
Siegel, former president of New York Health and Hospitals Corp., said he ordered the hiring withdrawn because the hospital is overstaffed with 3,338 full-time employees. More layoffs may be necessary, he said, noting the hospital posted a
$4 million loss in June after managed-care payers told physicians to use lower-cost facilities. The employees were hired under the previous administrator, Fred Karl, who retired.
The new employees would have cost the hospital $1.5 million in annual salaries and benefits, he said. The hospital projects a $3.7 million loss for fiscal 1996 ending Sept. 30.
Tampa General has been affected the past six months by HMOs and insurers that are encouraging physicians to direct their patients to lower-cost hospitals, Knight said.
We've heard about World Wide Web sites that allow you to view cadavers in sections, take a "virtual ultrasound," and learn about all sorts of new medical technology. But Lowell (Mass.) General Hospital may be the first site to feature photos of surgery as it's being performed.
Lowell's Electric Apple Journal web site offers the Operating Room, where users can access a "SurgeryCam" that allows them to share the surgeon's view of a live procedure. For example, during an endoscopy, viewers get the images from inside the body as seen through the endoscope.
During the surgery, images are updated at the viewer's request.
A "file room" of archived images has old surgeries, magnetic resonance imaging studies, cardiac catheterization procedures and more. Audio clips and text files also are available for download, as is a medical glossary. The Electric Apple Journal can be accessed at http: //www.lowellgeneral.org.